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If Kenny Anunike can stay healthy, he can make an impact on this defense

MHR has landed on Kenny Anunike for its 90-man roster report, and injuries have been the story for the DE out of Duke during his short career. If he can stay healthy, he has an opportunity to become a major contributor in the Broncos’ defensive line rotation.

NFL: Preseason-Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Kenny Anunike
Position: DE
Height: 6'4" Weight: 275
Age: 26 Experience: 3rd
College: Duke

Kenny Anunike has spent most of his two year career sidelined by injuries. His rookie campaign was derailed by an elbow injury, while his sophomore season was hampered by a knee injury that never seemed to heal. He spent the last half of 2015 on injured reserve.

The Broncos went on to win a Super Bowl with Anunike watching from the sidelines. Even with the departure of Malik Jackson to Jacksonville, there is a big mountain to climb for Anunike to get a shot at seeing the field. Derek Wolfe, Jared Crick and Vance Walker will stand in the way of Anunike making any meaningful contributions on defense. Even the Broncos 2016 second-round draft pick Adam Gotsis is standing in Anunike’s way.

Coming out of Duke, Anunike joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent after amassing 15.5 sacks in his final three seasons in college. He has shown potential, but that can be a dirty word. Players who don’t live up to their potential are dispensable. Until now, the biggest issue facing Anunike has been his health. He has the ability to be a solid player on the defensive line, but one of the most important abilities in football is availability.

If Anunike can show he is available, that would be the first big step toward finding some playing time for the Broncos’ vaunted defense. With the his size, and his apparent knack for making big plays (he had four forced fumbles at Duke), the 3-4 defense seems to suit him. He showed in preseason last year that he can be a force on the line. The big question will be can he be a health force?

The good:

Anunike is a solid DE who seems to have the ability to make big plays. He may be a ball hawk looking back to his days at Duke. His size and speed are a big plus, and he seems to be well-suited for the 3-4 defensive scheme.

The bad:

Injuries. Nothing else holds Anunike back like his inability to stay healthy. In his two seasons in the NFL injuries have been his downfall. This will likely be the last season Anunike will be able to prove his abilities at the NFL level, and that includes his ability to stay on the field.


Anunike is confident he will be on the field. Speaking to the media in June he had strong statements about his health. “Oh yeah, of course, of course. I cannot wait,” he said. “I’m on track and working with (Broncos head athletic trainer Steve Antonopulos) and those guys every day at the facility. I’ll be ready to go.”

Roster status:

Anunike has a great chance to be on the 53 man roster when all is said and done. If he can make an impact during preseason, and stay healthy, he will definitely find himself in the rotation on the defensive line.